PIMLICO, SOHO, MARYLEBONE AND WEST END LABOUR ACTION REPORT – July 2021
News from your Westminster Labour Councillors
Abbey Orchard Estate
We have written to Peabody about this issue:
“I am at the end of the line as far as trying to get scaffolding taken down from outside windows on the main courtyard of our estate. It was erected originally last August 2020 for work on the roof and had one modification but apparently work is not yet complete. The problem is that we have never seen anyone on the scaffolding and as we live on the ground floor cannot open or clean all our windows on the courtyard side as well as loss of light and plants that have died in window boxes and planted area outside.”
“We appreciate that the scaffolding has been up a very long time, this is due to our contractors working on a roof leak at the estate. The cause of the leaks were not obvious and there has been a period of time needed to carry out works, test the effectiveness and then complete additional works where needed. We are nearly finished with the roof works now and anticipate that the scaffold will be struck in approximately 4 week’s time.”
Following our enquiries, residents told us:
“There was someone inspecting the scaffolding earlier today which is a start, so I am hoping that the landlord has been prompted into action. Many thanks as always – how fortunate we are to have a supportive and hard-working Councillor who really cares about his constituents”
We have asked the Environmental Health Team to investigate this issue:
“At the rear of 92-94 Belgrave Road a dripping overflow drips constantly into 2 buckets in the rear yard of the basement flat (both of which are themselves overflowing). The noise can be heard from Clarion House and no doubt all along the vast void that runs along the back of Moreton Place and Belgrave Road properties. This has been going on for 2 years and I have traced and asked the managing agents to deal with it – in 2019 and last year. The basement tenants in the rear yard have told me that they can’t work or sleep well in the property and they have asked the owner of the offending flat above to fix the overflow.”
Cundy Street plans
The Council has finally agreed the Grosvenor Estate plans to demolish the Cundy Street flats. You can read about it here https://www.mylondon.news/news/west-london-news/neighbours-mark-end-era-belgravia-20778072?utm_source=mylondon_newsletter&utm_campaign=mywestlondon_newsletter2&utm_medium=email
Darwin House and Balmoral Castle redevelopment plans
Councillor Liza Begum attended the Planning Committee meeting in person to represent local residents. In her deputation she raised concerns over safeguarding processes for Darwin House residents, the dissatisfaction of residents with the consultation period, the lack of social housing in the current plans and the impact phase 2 would have on the grade II listed buildings which were in close proximity to the proposed building facing the riverside.
We have asked the Housing Office to investigate reports of anti-social behaviour outside Hopkinson House, Vauxhall Bridge Road.
Following our enquiries about the anti-social early morning deliveries and collections from the Blue Cross Animal Hospital, the Hospital Faciilities Manager tells us:
“I can now confirm after a successful pilot today, our Wednesday morning cremation collection has been re-scheduled. I am pleased to advise our collections will now be made on Tuesdays’ during working hours.”
Queen Mother Sports Centre
We have taken this issue up with the Council:
“I swim thrice weekly at the Queen Mother centre in Victoria. The pool is OK and the changing rooms are kept clean. However, since the pandemic, timed tickets are required. This is completely understandable. There are two big problems, though. Firstly, they have 60-minute sessions which are available only on the half hour, with a capacity of 10 people per lane (fast, medium, slow, so 30 people in total). This means that everyone arrives more-or-less at once, the lanes are usually full, from the off, and the changing rooms and showers get crowded, which is exactly what we don’t want in these Covid times.
Then there are annoying little things like poor maintenance – e.g. a slamming door to the wet side changing rooms which has been broken since 2019 but despite my having reported it several times, remains broken – and today, tepid showers which dribbled such a paucity of water it was almost impossible to get wet. Everyone Active are not providing a good enough service – at least not for swimmers like me.”
Dave Hill writes about ‘Ian Nairn on council housing, human scale and low traffic neighbourhoods’
We have written to L&Q Group on behalf of Coburg Close residents to ask for security works, long-delayed repairs and water penetration issues to be investigated.
Martlett Court and Crown Court
We have asked the Street Lighting Team about the decision to remove the historic gas lighting units from Martlett Court and Crown Court in Covent Garden. People say, “The warm light they give out is really distinctive, they are much loved, & they enhance London”
Simon Jenkins continues his campaign to open up Buckingham Palace gardens to the public
Vic Keegan writes about the Supreme Court’s criminal past
You can read the history of the ‘Little Ben’ clock here
Oxford Circus – part-pedestrianisation plans
The Council has announced proposals for a 150m-long section of Oxford Street, on either side of Oxford Circus, to be closed to vehicles by the end of the year, effectively cutting “London’s high street” in two. The stretch from John Prince’s Street to the west of Oxford Circus, through to Great Portland Street to the east will be shut to buses and taxis. This will be turned into two pedestrian “piazzas” on either side of Oxford Circus. There will still be traffic along Regent Street. You can read more here
We have raised concerned that this might divert delivery vehicles, taxis and other vehicles on to streets north and south of Oxford Street.
All these changes are being introduced for six months on an ‘experimental’ basis which means the Council is not required to carry out full consultation before beginning work later this year. The FitzWest Forum has written to the Council arguing that full consultation should be carried out now because of the potential impact of these changes on Fitzrovia, as well as Soho, Marylebone and Mayfair.
What do you think of the part-pedestrianisation proposals?
Oxford Street shops
A ‘Property Week’ investigation found that Oxford Street empty retail rates have risen to 17%. Out of the 215 units that line Oxford Street currently 36 stand empty with ‘the rise of online shopping’ being the principal cause.
West End Councillor Pancho Lewis, alongside West End Action Team members Paul Fisher, Patrick Lilley and Jessica Toale and have written an open letter to the Council and the Mayor reflecting residents’ concerns and distress caused by excessive helicopter noise. To see the letter and add your name go to https://bit.ly/HelicopterNoiseOpenLetterhttps://bit.ly/HelicopterNoiseOpenLetter
Charleen Spiteri hosts an episode of Absolute Radio’s Tales From the Cloakroom where she talks to Jeff Horton about how the 100 Club on Oxford Street moved on from a purely jazz music venue in 1942, to the rock ‘n’ roll decades, punk, reggae and beyond. Spiteri talks to Horton about how his family acquired the club, and to some of the many artists who have played there, and its importance as a venue for new bands and DJs to this day.
Cartoon Museum, Wells Street
The Cartoon Museum in Wells Street has re-opened with an exhibition examining the cultural impact of the most ground-breaking series of comics ever to be published — V for Vendetta. At 63 Wells Street, Fitzrovia, London W1A 3AE, until 31 October 2021.
We have asked the Council to investigate reports of persistent rubbish dumping in Reeves Mews and to take the appropriate action against those responsible.
Dave Hill asks what is happening with the Park Lane temporary cycle lane?
Harriet Sherwood writes about Ollie Claridge, the last resident of Bond Street
We have asked the Housing Department to give us an update on this issue raised by residents:
“Our major works programme is now over 10 years behind schedule and has just been delayed another 2, previously it was the pressure of cladding works, now the excuse is the pandemic. There are areas of the estate that just begin to look derelict.”
We have again asked the Housing Department to take action against anti-social behaviour in flats which are let out by absentee leaseholders.
We are making enquiries with the Council about the unauthorized change of use of a retail premises to restaurant use in Seymour Place.
HYDE PARK WARD
Residents of The Quadrangle have contacted us after a piece of concrete façade was discovered on the grounds around the Quadrangle Tower. The managing agents say that parts of the concrete suffer from expansive corrosion which is causing the façade slabs to break off in parts. The managing agents say:
“We have employed a contractor to make-safe any areas which are most precarious and will be erecting a scaffold to ensure the full safety of all entrance/exit and garden users. The structure will be in place by mid-July.”
Residents have asked us to help ensure that they get all the information they need to understand the safety aspects of the situation and how the remedial works will be undertaken. We contacted the Council’s Head of Building Control who told us:
“It is quite common for façade panels to fail in this way given their exposure and often lack of cover to the reinforcement. Provided the structure is not a flat panel slab construction there should be no major structural implications. I would suggest the residents press for a full copy of the structural report to assess the extent of the investigations and to understand the main structural arrangements for the building.”
There was a large spillage of white paint on the pavement outside 52 Kendal Street. We have reported to this to the Council and asked for the paint to be removed as quickly as possible.
Residents have contacted us about a number of local issues and we have written to the Council about the following:
- We have asked if the pavement area outside 21 Westbourne Street can be inspected as there is a trip hazard around one of the old coal hole lids
- We have asked the Refuse Collection Team can take action against those responsible for the regular dumping by the tree at the junction with Bathurst Street
We also asked if the area around the lamp post outside 20 Westbourne Street can be given a ‘deep clean’ as the pavement has a lot of ingrained dirt from the spillage from dumped rubbish bags. A few days later the area was flushed clean.
We have asked BT to arrange to clean the row of red BT phone booths on Bayswater Road at the corner of Edgware Road. The phone booths are in a tourist hotspot and their appalling condition is a terrible advert for this country, as well as being a regular blight on the landscape for local residents.
Cladding scandal – Munkenbeck and Marshall
At the request of residents living in the Munkenbeck and Marshall building on Hermitage Street, we have written to the managing agents to support residents’ serious concerns about:
- safety defects in the balcony wooden flooring
- continued Saturday working to the detriment of the wellbeing and health of residents
- mismanagement of the remediation process
Residents say, “We are told progress is on track although it is difficult to judge and almost impossible to discern any plan or logic to the approach being taken. Living through it has been miserable, with extraordinary noise levels and general intrusion into the ability to enjoy our homes.”
Sheldon Square – Network Homes leaseholders
Following our inquiries with Network Homes about the cost to leaseholders of installing long-awaited air conditioning units in flats in Sheldon Square, residents have contacted us to say:
“Victory! We have been informed that the leaseholders will not be asked to pay for the installation of the air conditioning system. Thank you for your help.”
Sheldon Square – anti-social behaviour
We have asked the Council and the Police to investigate reports from residents of increased anti-social behaviour from customers from the various bars in Sheldon Square. Also, we have asked the Council to investigate reports of out-of-hours building works at some of the commercial units.
In response to our enquiries about the continued use of Westbourne Terrace by National Express coaches, the Council has told us:
“The City Council understands that National Express are at a very advanced stage of negotiation with TfL (as the Licensing Authority for most express coach services that link London) to amend the route of its A6 route from Paddington, Bishop’s Bridge Road, to Stansted Airport. At the time of writing details of this development cannot be published until a formal license amendment decision is published.”
Remembering Joe Hegarty
It is with deep sadness that we heard that Joe Hegarty, who was a Westminster Councillor from 1974-90, has died aged 77. Joe was Leader of the Westminster Labour Group from 1981-87 and was Chair of Westminster Primary Care Trust from 2004-11. He will be much missed by many Westminster residents who knew him and who he helped.
Survey of Residents’ Views
We want to know what you think the Council’s priorities should be over the coming years. Please let us know by completing this short survey so we can take action on your priorities. Thank you
Voting by post
It is much easier, quicker and safer to vote by post. You can use this form to apply for a postal vote
You can email your completed form to email@example.com or post it to Electoral Services, Westminster City Council, 14th Floor City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP.
Refuse collection and Recycling collection time
Recycling bags can be ordered from https://webforms.westminster.gov.uk/order-recycling-bags/
Bags will be delivered within approximately 48 hours of order.
You can check when refuse and recycling is collected from your street here http://transact.westminster.gov.uk/env/streetsearch.aspx
You can report dumped rubbish, broken pavements, defective street lights and more on the Report It service. https://www.westminster.gov.uk/report-it
The police have told us the following:
“Currently in the UK, you can legally buy an e-scooter, but you cannot ride it on a public road, cycle lane or pavement. The only place it can be used is on private land. The reason for this is that e-scooters are treated as motor vehicles by the Department of Transport and are subject to the same legal requirement as other vehicles, such as MOT, licencing, tax and insurance. Because they don’t always have number plates, signalling ability or visible rear lights, they cannot be used legally on the roads.
What happens if I am stopped by the police? The police will advise you on the law and may ask you to take your e-scooter home. They may, however, still penalise you depending on the seriousness of the offence. If caught riding an e-scooter, fines you may receive can include: (a) a Fixed Penalty Notice for no insurance, with a £300 fine and six penalty points, (b) a Fixed Penalty Notice for no driving licence, up to £100 fine and three-six penalty points.
Other offences which may result in penalties include riding on the footpath, using a mobile phone, riding through red lights and drink driving offences.”
Coronavirus (Covid-19) UPDATE
You can see the latest data for your area here
You can read the ‘Westminster Extra’ on-line
What you say
“Thank you for your very comprehensive report and the content is very much appreciated. Your efforts do not go un-noticed and we ask that all of you continue the excellent work that you do throughout Westminster on behalf of residents and businesses”
“Thank you for highlighting the problems residents are having in Hugh Mews with the noise, employee parking, anti-social delivery hours and employee smoking as the new Blue Cross CEO and his local team ignore resident concerns. We tried our local Councillors to no avail.”
“That’s fantastic work, hugely appreciated! Your work makes a huge difference to the residents”
“Thanks so much to Pancho for persuading WCC to re-open Marshall Street Leisure Centre with extended hours and particularly with the use of the swimming pool. I was fearing the worst. This facility is vital not only for residents individually but as a source of civic communality for Soho.”
“Thanks also for the continued historical snippets on this occasion being the origin of the name ‘Marlboro’ cigarettes.”
‘Thank you for your newsletters, they are most informative and make us feel that we are not on our own in the battle against the incompetence of WCC staff.”
“Thank you so very much for the latest Labour Action Report, which again shows the incredible amount of work the Labour Team do on behalf of residents across Westminster. I truly do not know what any of us would do without you.”
“Thank you again for such an immensely detailed report, showing the astonishing amount of work you all do on behalf of residents. I am so very, very grateful.”
“Thank you for the action report and for raising the issue of helicopter noise”
“Thank you so much for your time and attention to this matter – it is appreciated”
Please let us know if we can be of help or assistance on any local issues.
Please feel free to pass this report to your neighbours. If you know of anyone else who might like to receive this report, please send them this sign-up link http://bit.ly/signuplabnews
Please keep safe, stay well and look after yourself and your neighbours.
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg
Labour City Management spokesperson
Westminster City Council
Your Labour Councillors can be contacted as follows
Churchill Ward – For details of ways to contact Councillor Liza Begum and Councillor Shamim Talukder, please see the Churchill Labour website
West End Ward – You can contact Councillor Pancho Lewis by email or telephone.